PLYMOUTH - The Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2018-19 town budget, at 7 p.m., Thursday, in the Town Hall Community Room.
Superintendent Martin Semmel noted that the hearing is an opportunity for the public to speak up about all facets of the budget, but he wants parents to be aware that the finance board wants to cut the school portion by about $22,000.
In March, Semmel presented the $24,235,436 school budget request for 2018-19 to the finance board.
“It’s about a .09 percent increase over this current budget,” he said. “Keep in mind that included about $320,000 of increases in insurance costs that we’re getting back as a quote.”
Since then the finance board voted to reduce that request by about $197,000, he said. “That would actually be a reduction from this year’s spending by about .7 percent.”
Semmel said school officials are reviewing the district’s insurance carriers and may be able to find some savings in the proposed budget but it’s too soon to know right now.
He noted that the finance board is in a difficult situation, given that the state took so long to adopt its biennial budget last year, and budget uncertainties continue at the state level, it leaves towns and schools unsure of what state aid they will be receiving.
“I certainly don’t envy their position, just like I don’t envy your position,” he told the Board of Education members recently.
The finance board is assuming that Plymouth will get about $8.5 million in Education Cost Sharing state aid for 2018-19, which is the figure Gov. Dannel Malloy is proposing, Semmel said.
“So they’re using the most conservative number I think possible in the development of their overall town budget,” he said. “The two-year state budget has $9.7 million for us. There’s a big swing between what the state adopted in its two-year budget and what the governor is suggesting.”
If the finance board stays with its assumption Plymouth will be getting $8.5 million in ECS, and somehow the town ends up getting more, “we’re going to have to ask where that money is going,” he said.
“It could probably technically go to the general fund, but it would be coming out of what was money that was really earmarked for education,” he said. “So it will be interesting as we go through this year to pay attention to that assumption. I’m not saying their assumption is necessarily wrong, they’re being as conservative as they feel they need to be, and they do have to make sure the budget balances at the end of the year. I think it’s just important to note.”
Semmel did comment that James Kilduff, finance board chair, has been very good about communicating with him and paying attention to the district’s needs. “I appreciate the fact that that has been the case.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.